The 2023 NFL quarterback carousel could feature some blockbuster switches, but this cycle revolves around a future Hall of Fame quarterback nearing the end of his career.
That’s not Tom Brady this time. Brady announced his retirement on Wednesday, and that will have a chain reaction that could impact Tampa Bay and projected landing spots such as Las Vegas and San Francisco. That is, if Brady stays retired this time.
Aaron Rodgers, who turns 40, is the quarterback we’re talking about. The Packers missed the playoffs with a 8-9 record, and Rodgers enters a third offseason where retirement has been part of the conversation. Will he stay in Green Bay? That is one of the major questions for this carousel, but not the only one.
MORE: Ranking the NFL’s top 50 free agents for 2023
Get ready for change. Sporting News picked the starting quarterback for each NFL team in 2023, and we have Rodgers starting somewhere new.
What about Lamar Jackson? Will he stay in Baltimore? Is Tua Tagovailoa still the right quarterback in Miami? Where will veterans Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo land? Free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft will dictate a few more switches, too.
Who starts where? Sporting News sizes up the quarterback situation for all 32 teams heading into 2023:
NFL DRAFT 2023: SN’s latest mock | Updated top 75 big board
Who started last year? Kyler Murray started in 11 games and had 2,368 passing yards, 14 TDs and seven interceptions. Murray suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 against the Patriots. Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley and David Blough combined to start the other six games in a nightmarish 4-13 season.
Who starts in 2023? Murray signed a five-year, $230 contract that keeps him with the Cardinals through 2028, so he’s not going anywhere. Two questions linger: Who will replace Kliff Kingsbury as head coach? Will Murray be recovered in time for Week 1? If not, then McCoy, who has one year left, or a free agent will be the Week 1 starter.
Who started last year? The Falcons finished 7-10 for the second straight season. Marcus Mariota had 2,219 yards, 15 TDs and nine interceptions in 13 starts. Rookie Desmond Ridder had 708 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in four starts. Mariota opted for knee surgery when Ridder took the starting job and left the team.
Who starts in 2023? Don’t count on Mariota returning. It’s go time for third-year coach Arthur Smith, and Ridder is the best bet to start. If Tennessee lets go of Ryan Tannehill, this is a potential landing spot knowing Smith was the Titans offensive coordinator from 2019-20. The Falcons make a push for Lamar Jackson, but Ridder will be the starting quarterback next season.
Who started this year? Lamar Jackson started in 12 games, but he suffered a PCL injury in Week 13 that knocked him out of the rest of the regular season. Jackson finished with 2,242 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions. Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown started the last five games, and Huntley was the starter in the 24-17 loss to Cincinnati in the AFC wild card round.
Who starts in 2023? Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said there is a “200 percent” chance Jackson stays with the Ravens. We’ll take those odds. There is speculation that Jackson could be on the move, but the Ravens still have the option of an exclusive franchise tag. Look for Baltimore to work out the terms of an extension with their star quarterback, and it will be a prove-it year for all parties involved in 2023.
Who started this year? Josh Allen passed for 4,283 yards, 35 TDs and 14 interceptions and led the Bills to the AFC divisional playoffs, where they lost 27-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals. Buffalo is 47-18 the last four seasons with Allen.
Who starts in 2023? Allen is locked up with a long-term contract in Buffalo that runs through 2028, and now the focus is on getting the Bills back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1993 season. That pressure will increase with each missed opportunity.
Who started this year? Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker and Baker Mayfield all had at least five starts in a 7-10 season where the Panthers fired Matt Rhule and rolled with Steve Wilks, who was 6-6 as the interim coach. Darnold was the best of the three quarterbacks with a 4-2 record as a starter.
Who starts in 2023? Frank Reich is the new coach in Carolina, so there are multiple options as to where this could go. SN’s 2023 Mock Draft has the Panthers taking Will Levis, though that would eliminate 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral from contention. If Levis is ready, then he will be the Week 1 starter. We’ll play it safe with Darnold for now.
Who started this year? Justin Fields started in 15 games in his second season, and he led the Bears with 1,143 rushing yards and eight TDs. Fields had 2,242 passing yards, 17 TDs and 11 interceptions. He has missed nine games the last two seasons.
Who starts in 2023? The Bears finished 3-14 in Matt Eberflus’ first season and have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s time to get Fields, who has two years left on his rookie contract, some help at the receiver position.
Who started this year? Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, passed for 4,475 yards, 35 TDs and 12 interceptions and led Cincinnati to the AFC championship game for the second straight season. He’s two years removed from a devastating ACL and MCL injury, and he’s emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Who starts in 2023? Burrow has one year left on his rookie contract and a fifth-year option, so there is time to plan around what is sure to be a huge second contract. In the meantime, Burrow has taken 92 sacks the last two seasons. Cincinnati needs to protect their investment.
Who started this year? Jacoby Brissett started the first 11 games of the season while Deshaun Watson served a suspension. Watson started Cleveland’s last six games, and he had 1,102 yards, seven TDs and five interceptions.
Who starts in 2023? Watson still has four years left on a $230-million contract, so he will be the starter for fourth-year coach Kevin Stefanski, who is 15-19 since taking the Browns to the playoffs in 2020. Brissett is a free agent. Will Cleveland bring him back?
Who started this year? Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury, which kept him out of five games this season. He still had a 8-4 record as a starter and passed for 2,860 yards, 23 TDs and 15 interceptions. The Cowboys reached the NFC divisional playoffs, where they lost 19-12 to San Francisco.
Who starts in 2023? Mike McCarthy and Prescott are now 1-2 together in the postseason, and Prescott is 1-4 for his career. Prescott’s contract runs through 2026, but Dallas has a potential out for 2024. Would they be willing to bring in competition from a rookie in the draft? Backup Cooper Rush is a free agent. Prescott will be the starter, but the pressure to deliver increases.
MORE: Ranking the NFL’s 15 best QBs available in 2023 offseason
Who started this year? The Broncos traded for Russell Wilson, who started in 15 games and had 3,524 yards, 16 TDs and 11 interceptions in a disaster season with Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired after 15 games. Brett Rypien also started two games.
Who starts in 2023? Wilson, 34, is under contract through 2026. Will Sean Payton be the cure with the veteran quarterback? Rypien is a free agent. There is a lot to settle here before the regular season, but this is the bed the Broncos made. Wilson will be the starter. The question is about Payton being the right coach to make it work.
Who started this year? The Lions finished 9-8 under second-year coach Dan Campbell, and Jared Goff paired well with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Goff passed for 4,438 yards, 28 TDs and seven interceptions. The Lions just missed the NFC playoffs.
Who starts in 2023? The Lions resisted drafting a quarterback in 2023, and it paid off. Goff’s contract runs through 2024, so it’s a good bet Campbell, Johnson and Goff will try to take the next step in 2023. Goff will be the starting quarterback.
Green Bay Packers
Who started this year? Rodgers returned to the Packers, but the Davante Adams trade made for a rough transition. The Packers finished 8-9, missed the playoffs and Rodgers finished with 3,695 yards, 26 TDs and 12 interceptions. The Week 18 loss felt like the end of an era with Rodgers and Matt LaFleur.
Who starts in 2023? Rodgers, 39, is under contract through 2026. It’s time for the Packers to explore trading Rodgers if he does not retire. After two years of offseason drama, there can be a clean break from a franchise icon. Jordan Love gets his chance in his fourth season with a young core that could still compete for the NFC playoffs.
Who started this year? The Texans finished 3-13-1 last season. Davis Mills started in 14 games and finished with 3,118 yards, 17 TDs and 15 interceptions. Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel combined for the other three starts. Lovie Smith was fired, and the Texans have the No. 2 and No. 12 pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Who starts in 2023? The Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as coach, and it will be a choice between Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud with the No. 2 pick. SN’s 2023 Mock Draft says Young, whose play-making ability will be hard to pass up. Mills, who still is on a low-budget rookie contract through 2024, is a suitable backup.
Who started this year? This was a disaster year for the Colts. Matt Ryan started in 12 games, and was benched in favor of Sam Ehlinger. Frank Reich was fired, and interim coach Jeff Saturday took over. Journeyman backup Nick Foles also played in three games.
Who starts in 2023? Ryan is still on the roster, and the Colts have not hired a head coach yet. This is an important draft for owner Jim Irsay, and he pairs the new coach with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud in the first round. Stroud can develop into a franchise quarterback around a talented roster poised for a bounce-back season.
Who started this year? Doug Pederson’s arrival was just what 2021 NFL Draft top pick Trevor Lawrence needed. Lawrence passed for 4,113 yards, 25 TDs and eight TDs, and the Jaguars were one of the hottest teams in the NFL in the second half of the season. Jacksonville advanced to the AFC divisional playoffs before losing 27-20 to Kansas City.
Who starts in 2023? The rookie-contract window is open for the Jaguars with Lawrence, who will continue to improve the next two seasons with Pederson. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard is a free agent.
NFL DRAFT 2023: SN’s latest mock | Top 75 big board
Kansas City Chiefs
Who started this year? So much for losing Tyreek Hill. Patrick Mahomes II put together another MVP-caliber season with 5,250 yards, 41 TDs and 12 interceptions and led the Chiefs to another deep playoff run. Mahomes is 57-13, including playoffs, the last three seasons.
Who starts in 2023? Mahomes’ contract runs through 2031, and he’s reached five straight AFC championship games with coach Andy Reid, who will turn 65 this year. The run continues in 2023.
Las Vegas Raiders
Who started this year? Derek Carr passed for 3,522 yards, 24 TDs and 14 interceptions, but it was a disastrous 6-11 season with first-year coach Josh McDaniels. Jarrett Stidham started two games, and that’s when Carr announced he would be leaving the team.
Who starts in 2023? This was the spot for Brady, but there will be a reunion one way or the other for the Raiders. Could it be Rodgers and Davante Adams? That is one option. The other – and the one we think that could happen – is that Garoppolo leaves San Francisco for the Raiders – and that is the landing spot that makes sense.
Los Angeles Chargers
Who started this year? Justin Herbert has not missed a start the last two seasons. He finished with 4,739 yards, 25 TDs and 10 interceptions through a 10-7 in which the Chargers made the playoffs. The 31-30 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild card round, however, was a sore spot.
Who starts in 2023? That loss will put a tremendous amount of heat on coach Brandon Staley. Herbert has one more year on his rookie contract. He isn’t going anywhere. Staley is one the facing pressure going into 2023.
Los Angeles Rams
Who started this year? Matthew Stafford played in nine games but missed half the season because of a spinal cord contusion. The combination of Baker Mayfield, John Walford and Bryce Perkins started the other eight games. The Super Bowl hangover for the season ended with a 5-12 record.
Who starts in 2023? Stafford, entering his 15th season, and he still is on a four-year, $160-million contract with the Rams. The injuries are a concern, however, and it might not be a bad idea to bring Baker Mayfield back on a one-year deal if the former No. 1 pick cannot find a place that gives him a shot at a starting job.
Who started this year? The Dolphins finished 9-8 and made the AFC wild card under first-year coach Mike McDaniel. Tua Tagovailoa had a breakout season with 3,548 yards, 25 TDs and eight interceptions in 13 games, but he suffered multiple concussions. Teddy Bridgewater also was injured, and Skylar Thompsons was the starter in the AFC wild card matchup against Buffalo.
Who starts in 2023? There will be Lamar Jackson rumors, but the reality is Tagovailoa makes the most sense as the starting quarterback if he returns healthy. Tagovailoa has a year left on the rookie contract, and the expectation is he will be the starter in 2023. Thompson showed enough in the playoffs to be trusted as a backup in this offense.
Who started this year? The Vikings finished 13-4 and won the NFC North, but a first-round playoff exit brought up the same-old criticisms about Kirk Cousins, who had 4,754 yards, 29 TDs and 14 interceptions.
Who starts in 2023? First-year coach Kevin O’Connell did have a successful season, but the 31-24 loss to the Giants was not ideal. Cousins is playing on a one-year extension to the three-year, $84 million contract he signed with the team. He will be the starter in 2023, but it might be time to explore other options for the future.
New England Patriots
Who started this year? Mac Jones endured the dreaded sophomore slump. He finished with 2,997 yards, 14 TDs and 11 interceptions in 14 starts. Bailey Zappe won two starts while Jones dealt with an ankle injury but was pushed back down the depth chart. The Patriots finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs.
Who starts in 2023? Belichick is bringing back offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who was at Alabama the last two seasons. Belichick hasn’t committed to Jones, and at minimum there will be a competition with Zappe. Another name to watch is Jimmy Garoppolo. Until there is movement, however, it’s Jones who gets another shot with O’Brien as the offensive coordinator.
New Orleans Saints
Who started this year? Jameis Winston started three games this season, but was benched after suffering an ankle injury. Andy Dalton started 14 games for New Orleans. He finished 6-8 as a starter and passed for 2,871 yards, 18 TDs and nine interceptions for first-year coach Dennis Allen.
Who starts in 2023? Winston still is under contract, and Dalton is a free agent. New Orleans could bring Dalton back on another short-term deal to make it a competition and add a quarterback like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker via the draft. What’s the best veteran solution? The Saints go for Derek Carr – a higher-end version of Dalton – while they figure out the long-term plan.
New York Giants
Who started this year? Daniel Jones enjoyed a breakout season with first-year coach Brian Daboll. Jones passed for 3,205 yards, 15 TDs and five interceptions, and the Giants advanced to the NFC divisional playoffs. Backup Davis Webb started one game.
Who starts in 2023? New general manager Joe Schoen and co-owner John Mara continue to support Jones. The plan is to negotiate a long-term deal with Jones, and the Giants have the franchise tag. Jones will be New York’s starter in 2023.
New York Jets
Who started this year? The Jets finished 7-10 with unstable quarterback play. Zach Wilson started nine games in a season disrupted by a torn meniscus. Joe Flacco and Mike White combined for a 2-6 record in eight starts. Wilson has 15 TDs and 18 interceptions the last two seasons.
Who starts in 2023? Will the Jets go back to the Packers well like they did with Brett Favre and trade for Aaron Rodgers? Would Rodgers want to play in New York? This is the most-logical trading partner for the Packers. If not Rodgers, then this is the Derek Carr destination. Expect a veteran free agent to be New York’s quarterback next season, and Rodgers is the best answer.
Who started this year? The offseason trade for A.J. Brown paid huge dividends for Jalen Hurts, who emerged as an MVP candidate with second-year coach Nick Sirianni. Hurts finished with 3,701 passing yards, 22 TDs and six interceptions 760 yards and 13 TDs. He was 14-1 in the regular season. Gardner Minshew started two games this season.
Who starts in 2023? Hurts has one year left on his rookie contract. Who will be the backup? Minshew will be a free agent, but he has been reliable in this system. The Eagles should re-sign him.
Who started this year? Life without Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t easy, but the Steelers still managed a 9-8 record. Mitchell Trubisky started five games, but rookie Kenny Pickett took hold of the starting job. He had a 7-5 record as a starter and led a four-game winning streak to end the season. Pickett finished with 2,404 yards, 7 TDs and five interceptions.
Who starts in 2023? Pickett has three years left on a rookie contract, and he will be the starter next season. Trubisky has one year left on his contract, but will he ask for a trade? Would Pittsburgh entertain drafting another quarterback as insurance? The Steelers have not won a playoff game since 2016.
MORE: What Tom Brady retirement means for Buccaneers, Raiders, 49ers & Aaron Rodgers
San Francisco 49ers
Who started this year? Trey Lance opened the season as a starter but suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Jimmy Garoppolo started the next 10 games but suffered a season-ending foot injury. That paved the way for Brock Purdy, who went from Mr. Irrelevant to potential 2023 starting quarterback in Kyle Shanahan’s quarterback-friendly offense.
Who starts in 2023? Purdy suffered a UCL tear in the NFC championship game, and that recovery could stretch into training camp. Our guess is San Francisco moves on from Garoppolo, and that opens the door for Lance to be the starter in Week 1. There is a potential for a training camp battle between Purdy and Lance, but we’re sticking with Lance, who the 49ers have the most invested in.
Who started this year? The Seahawks traded Russell Wilson, and Geno Smith emerged as one of the best come-back stories of the 2022 season. Smith had 4,282 yards, 30 TDs and 11 interceptions and led the surprise Seahawks to the NFC playoffs. Smith will turn 33 years old next season.
Who starts in 2023? There will be temptation to go sign a veteran quarterback, but what can Derek Carr do that Smith didn’t do this season? The shrewd move is to franchise tag Smith and wait for a loaded quarterback class in the 2024 NFL Draft. Other teams might do that too, but count on Seattle to stick with Smith for at least one more year.
MORE: Breaking down Buccaneers’ options to replace Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who started this year? Tom Brady came out of retirement, and he finished with 4,694 yards, 25 TDs and nine interceptions in an up-and-down season where the Buccaneers were knocked out of the NFC playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was fired.
Who starts in 2023? There is a case for Brady to return, especially considering the Buccaneers’ offensive line was ravaged by injuries. So now that Brady is retired what happens? Kyle Trask is on the roster, and Blaine Gabbert is a free agent. So maybe the Buccaneers try a new plan that starts with bringing in veteran Jacoby Brissett, who started 11 games for the Browns last season, and drafting Florida’s Anthony Richardson in the first round. Brissett starts until Richardson is ready.
Who started this year? Ryan Tannehill started in 12 games and had a 6-6 record. Third-round pick Malik Willis struggled in three starts. Joshua Dobbs made the other two starts. It was a messy 7-10 season for coach Mike Vrabel, and the Titans have a new GM in Ran Carthon.
Who starts in 2023? The Titans could move on from Tannehill, who has one year left on his deal but would only cost a $9.2 million dead cap hit. Or Tennessee could be a candidate to draft a quarterback with the No. 11 pick. Would they be bold enough to trade up for C.J. Stroud? If not, then Tannehill will be the Week 1 starter.
Who started this year? Carson Wentz started in seven games, but he struggled after returning from a broken finger. Taylor Henicke started in nine games and had a 5-3-1 record as a starter. Sam Howelll might have changed the game, however, with an impressive start against Dallas in Week 18.
Who starts in 2023? Offensive coordinator Scott Turner was fired, and Wentz can be released without a dead cap hit. That means Ron Rivera likely will have an open competition between Heinicke and Howell in fall camp. Look for Washington to resist the urge to bring in a veteran, unless it’s Derek Carr. Our guess is Howell is the Week 1 starter.